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Democracy Decoded

A Podcast by Campaign Legal Center

Democracy Decoded

A Podcast by Campaign Legal Center

Why does American Democracy look the way it does today and how can we make it more responsive to the people it was formed to serve? "Democracy Decoded", a podcast by Campaign Legal Center, examines our government and discusses innovative ideas that could lead to a stronger, more transparent, accountable and inclusive democracy. Host Simone Leeper speaks with experts from across the political spectrum and takes a deep dive into the forces fueling our elections, not just in our nation’s capital but at all levels of government. 

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About the host:

Portrait of Simone Leeper

Simone Leeper litigates a wide range of redistricting-related cases at CLC, challenging gerrymanders and advocating for election systems that guarantee all voters an equal opportunity to influence our democracy. Prior to arriving at CLC, Simone was a law clerk in the office of Senator Ed Markey and at the Library of Congress, Office of General Counsel. She received her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2019 and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2016. 


About CLC: 

Democracy Decoded is a production of Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization which advances democracy through law at the federal, state and local levels, fighting for every American’s right to responsive government and a fair opportunity to participate in and affect the democratic process.


The Democracy Group logo on a blue background with yellow microphones


Democracy Decoded is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it. 

    A magnifying glass hovering over a $100 bill.
    Season 1: Decoding Money in Politics


    1. 1. Cracks in the System Joined by Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center and a Republican former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, host Simone Leeper breaks down the basics of America’s campaign finance system.
    2. 2. How Did We Get Here? Joined by Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of OpenSecrets, and Norman Ornstein, chair of the Board of Campaign Legal Center, host Simone Leeper looks back on the history of campaign finance law in the United States.
    3. 3. Dark Money Trickles Down This week, Simone is joined by two CLC experts, Erin Chlopak and Brendan Fischer, as well as attorney Peter Earle and “BadAss Grandmas” Ellen Chaffee and Dina Butcher. These guests help explain two key instances in which big money spending impacted local communities.
    4. 4. There Oughta Be a Law... This week, Simone takes a closer look at the Federal Election Commission - the only government agency tasked solely with overseeing the integrity of our political campaigns. She also takes a look at how our current campaign finance system has failed to keep up with modern times by failing to adequately regulate online ads.
    5. 5. Of, By and For the People This week, Simone examines some of the gaps in our campaign finance laws that have allowed foreign entities to spend money to influence our elections.
    6. 6. Giving a Voice to All Americans In the season finale, Simone dives into the world of public financing, examining how two cities on opposite sides of the country took important steps to provide candidates with public funds to support their election efforts.
    7. Bonus: What Happens When the People Decide? In this bonus episode we’re featuring content from a new podcast called “When the People Decide.” Host Jenna Spinelle explores the basics of the ballot initiative and the history of how it caught on in the United States. 
    8. Bonus: Foreign Interference With Far-reaching Consequences In this bonus episode, Simone explores the backstory behind a case of foreign interference in U.S. elections which had far reaching consequences, both in America and abroad.
    voting booths
    Season 2: Decoding the Freedom to Vote


    1. 1. Make Every Vote Count In this episode Simone talks with Brittany Carter from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund about the history of voting rights, and how African Americans risked their lives and safety for the freedom to vote. Then, CLC lawyers Paul Smith and Danielle Lang explain what voting access looks like today, and what barriers still exist for many Americans.
    2. 2. Can I Vote? The right to vote is a basic American freedom, but for people with felony convictions, figuring out if they can vote is a huge task. This episode looks at the history of felony disenfranchisement laws and explains how denying the freedom to vote to an entire class of citizens hurts voters, communities and our democracy.
    3. 3. What If I Can't Vote in Person? Voting at a polling place on Election Day may be easy for some, but many voters  face significant challenges. In this episode we look at how vote-by-mail works, why it’s secure and accurate and how it helps more voters make their voice heard.
    4. 4. What If I Want to Vote in Person? Voting in person is still the most popular way to vote for many people. In this episode we learn about the history of Election Day and the challenges that many Americans face when they try to vote in person.
    5. 5. A Fight for the Right to Vote In this episode, we discuss what we learned from the 2020 presidential election, the 2022 midterms, and how we can work together to make the promise of democracy real for us all.